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Polls Shakeup At The Top After Top Teams Falter

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Despite Ryan Dunn's putout above, Oregon St. dropped a 4-3 decision to USC Sunday, and as a result, lost the series, and a chance to move to #1 in the nation.

<em>(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)</em>
Despite Ryan Dunn's putout above, Oregon St. dropped a 4-3 decision to USC Sunday, and as a result, lost the series, and a chance to move to #1 in the nation. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Oregon St. missed not only a chance to clinch the Pac-10 Championship, but also seize the #1 spot in the national rankings, when they dropped consecutive games Saturday and Sunday to visiting USC. Not that the Trojans are anyone to take lightly, given they have now won their last 4 series, including back to back 2 of 3 sets over the top two teams in the conference, and 5 of their last 6.

The door to the top of the polls opened when top ranked Virgina got swept by North Carolina. But the Beavers' bad opening half inning Saturday (in a game they out-played USC for 8 1/2 innings), where they gave up 8 runs, and a scuffling outing Sunday, where the Trojans came up with one more one run at bat than the Beavers, produced the first lost series of the Pac-10 season, as USC became the first team since Fresno St. to take multiple wins against Oregon St., who dropped from second to sixth in both the Baseballamerica.com and the Baseballnews.com polls.

South Carolina took full advantage of the downfall of the Cavaliers and Beavers, as the Gamecocks used a series win over Alabama seize the top spot.

Both of Oregon St's closest pursuers for the Pac-10 Title both took 2 of 3 games in their series, as Arizona St. won two in Seattle, before Washington won Sunday, the Huskies' second consecutive series ending win against one of the conference's top teams, while UCLA took 2 of 3 from California.

As a result, both the Sun Devils and Bruins, who play each other this weekend in Tempe, remain one game behind Oregon St. (16-8 compared to the Beavers' 17-7 Pac-10 mark). The two will eliminate at least one of them in their series. However, Oregon St. holds the tie breaker over both Arizona St. and UCLA. A single win in Eugene against Oregon will lock up the title unless either ASU or UCLA manages a sweep, in which case Oregon St. will need to win two to claim the conference championship, and an automatic bid to the NCAA postseason.

Oregon (29-26, 8-16), who had swept Gonzaga mid-week, lost 2 of 3 in Pullman. The Ducks carried a 7-6 lead they had taken in the top of the eighth inning into the ninth inning in Sunday's series deciding game, only to have Washington St. score twice with 2 outs to keep the Cougars' postseason hopes alive, as Matt Argyropoulos drove a walk-off single on a full count to drive in thee winning run. (Look for the Ducks to be in a fowl mood Friday.)

Arizona St. remained ranked #8 in the Baseballamerica.com poll, and climbed from #13 to #11 in the Baseballnews.com rankings, while UCLA climbed back into the Baseballamerica.com poll, at #23, and stayed at #17 on the Baseballnews.com list, which also elevated California from #25 to #23 despite the Bears dropping the series to the Bruins.

The USA/Today Coaches' Poll also promoted South Carolina to the top of their list, and dropped Oregon St. from 7th. to 10th., one spot behind where they have the Sun Devils, who moved up from #12 to #9. The coaches also moved Stanford, who won 2 of 3 against Arizona, up from #25  to #24.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com